After failing to secure a win against a top-10 team this season, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (12-7, 5-2 Big East) finally broke through and earned an impressive 81-72 win against No. 5 Xavier (16-2, 4-2 Big East) behind a career-high 21 points from sophomore guard Tre Campbell, who was 5-of-7 from three-point range.
The D.C. native carried his team offensively in the first half, scoring 17 first-half points.
“He just came out aggressive. The ball went in and he stayed with it,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said. “Every one of those shots was a good shot; it wasn’t like he was forcing anything.”
Georgetown fed off of Campbell’s energy in the second half, shooting and rebounding well against Xavier’s strong defensive team.
“My teammates kept finding me … I had a rhythm,” Campbell said.
To complement Campbell’s offensive output, senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 20 points, seven assists and two rebounds, while sophomore guard L.J. Peak and freshman center Jessie Govan each had 13 points. Peak was a menace on the boards as well, grabbing a game-high 10 rebounds.
Smith-Rivera had some key answers to runs made by the Musketeers in the second half to try to reclaim the lead, and was 3-of-6 from beyond the arc in the second half.
“I’m glad to come here and get a win. It’s the first time we’ve won here and the last time I’m playing here,” said Smith-Rivera.
In front of a raucous crowd at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, both teams got off to good starts. Campbell opened up the scoring with his first three-pointer of the night, and helped his team hang around for much of the first half. A hook shot from senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes tied things up at 10-10 five minutes into the game.
The Musketeers got some breathing room a little later when sophomore guard Trevon Bluiett had a clear path to the hoop, drove and converted the layup after Hayes fouled him. He made the foul shot to make it 23-18 with 8:54 remaining in the first half. Bluiett had 18 points to lead his team in scoring, and also had 10 rebounds and five assists.
Xavier’s lead would stretch to 27-20 after a couple of made-free throws from freshman guard Edmond Sumner, but then two consecutive threes by Tre Campbell and a fast-break dunk for Govan off a feed from Campbell made it 28-27 Georgetown with five minutes to go in the half. With the score tied at 31 with three minutes remaining, Campbell hit yet another three, and then Govan scored the next five points for the Hoyas to give them a 39-33 lead at halftime.
The Hoyas’ big-man depth was tested early on in the second half when Govan picked up his third foul just two minutes into the half. With Bradley Hayes also in trouble with three fouls, sophomore forward Trey Mourning was called upon to give his team some needed minutes at the center position. Mourning proceeded to make two free throws, assist Tre Campbell on a backdoor cut, and block Xavier’s senior forward James Farr to give the Hoyas the ball back.
Things got a little close for the Hoyas midway through the second half when a three-pointer from Bluiett cut into the lead, making it 51-49. Georgetown responded well after that, however, with Peak going on his own personal 5-0 run thanks to a three-pointer and slam dunk in transition to bring the Georgetown lead back to 61-50 with 9:44 remaining and slow down Xavier’s progress.
“I’m going to sit up here and give Georgetown a lot of credit. They had an answer to every bit of momentum we seemed to gain,” Xavier Head Coach Chris Mack said.
Foul trouble for Xavier helped out Georgetown towards the end of the game. A foul from freshman guard J.P. Macura allowed Peak to sink two free throws with 4:51 left to put Georgetown up 74-62.
Xavier wouldn’t get closer than seven points for the rest of the game, as Georgetown was able to hold on and secure an important win — one that should aid its case to make the NCAA Tournament in March.
“Georgetown came ready to play, they played their best basketball all year. We knew this wasn’t going to be an easy game whatsoever, despite their record,” Xavier junior guard Myles Davis said, who scored 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting for the Musketeers.
The victory marked Georgetown’s first win against a top-five team on the road since 2011, and it currently gives the Hoyas sole possession of second place in the Big East.
Thompson voiced how pleased he was with the performance after the game.
“It feels really good right now,” Thompson said. “They are an outstanding team on both ends of the court.”
Next, the Hoyas will travel to Storrs, Conn., on Saturday to face the UConn Huskies (13-5, 4-2 AAC) in a non-conference matchup. Tipoff is set for 12 p.m., and the game will be televised on CBS.
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